Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recommended using antitrust laws to curb the “massive power” of Facebook and other technology companies during a Tuesday interview with SiriusXM hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on Breitbart News Tonight.
Pollak asked Cruz about possible solutions to “censorship of conservatives” on Facebook and across the broader internet landscape.
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Cruz described technology companies’ growing control over the flow of information as a threat to democratic processes. He said, “I think, number one, the growing power of tech to censor speech is a profound threat. We’re seeing now some two-thirds of Americans are getting their news through social media, and these tech companies are hard-left. They are are partisan Democrats, and what we’re seeing is they’re amplifying the views they agree with, those of liberal Democrats, and they are suppressing the views of conservatives. They are blocking conservatives.”
Cruz added, “The scope of the power is truly unprecedented. You think back to the heights of yellow journalism, when publisher William Randolph Hearst controlled much of media and in fact got America into the Spanish-American War. These tech companies have power William Randolph Hearst could never have imagined. The ability, if there’s a view they dislike, simply to silence it so that if you put a post out there, if you put a tweet out there, it simply goes into the void, into oblivion, and no one sees it. Likewise, they have the ability, if there are views they want to promote, to just have everything on your feed be the views they want to promote. That is invidious. It is invisible, and it is profoundly dangerous.”
Cruz considered exposing technology firms to libel lawsuits to curb their political manipulation of the availability of information on their platforms. He said, “Now your question is a hard one and a good one. What remedies are there? I would say there are principally two. Number one, the question I asked Mark Zuckerberg, the opening question was, ‘Does Facebook consider itself a neutral public form?’ He danced around and refused to answer that. The reason the question matters is much, is under current law, Facebook and other tech companies have immunity from liability, so if someone posts something on their site, they can’t be sued for it, and it’s under what’s called the Communications Decency Act, section 230. The entire reason Congress enacted section 230 was under the assumption these tech sites would be neutral public forums, [that] they would allow people to be speaking. So the reasoning was, we’ll protect you from being sued because it’s not you speaking, it’s somebody else. Well, if Facebook and the other tech companies are going to choose instead to be partisan political speakers, they have a right to do that. They’ve got a First Amendment to become and to be partisan political speakers, but there’s no reason on Earth they should get a special immunity from liability from Congress.”
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Cruz continued, “Breitbart, if y’all go on the radio and say something that’s slanderous, you can be sued. If the New York Times prints something that is libel, they can be sued. So why on Earth should Facebook get a special immunity from liability that nobody else does. I think that’s one remedy.”
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act described the United States policy as, “[encouraging] the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services.”
Cruz also considered the use of antitrust laws to curb technology companies’ power. He remarked, “A second remedy is considering using anti-trust laws. By any measure, Facebook is larger and more powerful than Standard Oil was the antitrust laws broke it up. It’s larger and more power than AT&T was when antitrust laws broke it up and given that, I think we need to have serious consideration about the massive power we’re seeing of these tech companies to subvert our democratic process.”